A quick word to Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Greens and anyone standing against the Tories

The Tories are back in power and the sight of David Cameron’s cabinet on the news braying like public schoolboys and girls at the cabinet desk should be enough to chill the bloody because make no bones about it, there’s some vicious bastards in that cabinet.

Here’s a Tweet the Green MP Caroline Lucas made and it speaks the truth of the current situation.

carolinelucas

And she’s right. This is essentially restating the offer Nicola Sturgeon made during during the election campaign, but thanks to the fact there’s a pure Tory government it’s now essential that all progressive people get behind the SNP/Plaid/Green alliance and that includes Labour voters, and yes, even those Lib Dems sitting there crying in their ‘I agree with Nick‘ T-Shirts that are sitting there realising that Nick Clegg doomed them those five long years ago.

Right now there’s people moping around or blaming anyone they can for the Tory victory, but forget about that. The time for post mortems is over and the opposition starts now. Show the Tories and their supporters that resistance isn’t futile. Far from it…….

Good Morning Britain

This morning the UK has a Tory government. Not a coalition, but a full on Conservative government. All the polls were wildly wrong (bar the odd Guardian one that put the Tories six or seven points ahead of Labour) but those astonishing exit polls were spot on. Of course the possibility is that people were ashamed to say they were voting Tory, and right now apart from the diehards social media is curiously absent of people proclaiming that they voted Tory, but still that’s oddly not the story of the night.

The story of the night is the SNP. They’re on 56 seats out of 59 in Scotland. I think even the most optimistic SNP supporter expected the map of Scotland to look like this compared to five years ago.

scotlandmapge15

One Tory, one Labour, one Lib Dem each left in Scotland. 56 anti-austerity MP’s united by a common message and all from a variety of backgrounds outside of the political bubble, and of course the welcome return to Westminster of Alex Salmond who should at the very least make the opposition to the Tories interesting. The SNP now have to live up to the massive mandate they now have at Westminster and will probably get next year at Holyrood.

Everyone else lost. Labour and the Lib Dems got hammered for failing to present an alternative vision and being attached to the Tories respectfully. Labour’s failure that started the moment Tony Blair got rid of Clause 4 is now complete and seeing MP’s like Douglas Alexander, Margaret Curran and Jim Murphy be kicked out isn’t just because they stood with the Tories at the referendum last year, but because they’ve failed Scotland and the UK to line their own pockets and put the party first. Labour have to realise they cannot ever come back from this by being a centre right party and this excellent blog by the journalist Paul Mason should be the first thing any new Labour leader reads. Labour now have to find out what they actually are as they’re not a party of the left, or the right, or the centre. Milliband could have headed up a united left but he failed. Fuck, he could have actually been of the left!

And then there’s the Lib Dems. They’re not even going to get double figures in terms of MP’s. They’ve failed on a massive scale and Nick Clegg only seems to have saved his arse thanks to Tory voters backing him. Liberal values are gone, lost because five years ago Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander and the rest fancied those big ministerial cars, the salaries, the expenses and the power. They enabled the Tories all the way and failed to pull them back so their destruction means little to me, but I do think there’s a need for a party of the centre.

That party could be the Greens but they too failed to get more than one MP. The same number as UKIP that couldn’t even get Nigel Farage elected, and frankly fuck UKIP. I don’t really want to think of the implications of today regarding UKIP.

But this morning we face five more years of the Tories, probably helped along with the bigots in the DUP, and thanks to the Fixed Terms Parliament Act, the only way of getting rid of them is a vote of no-confidence and I have no confidence that Labour will support one of those as right now the candidates for replacing Ed Milliband are equally uninspiring and reek of the same political class that so alienated voters from Milliband’s Labour. The Tories now stand to make £12 billion in cuts, spend £20 billion of tax cuts for the rich, privatise the NHS, demonise immigrants, the poor, the disabled or anyone that isn’t them.

On this morning the only hope is the SNP and their allies the Greens and Plaid Cymru. A larger anti-austerity voice poking and prodding the Tories (and there are some elected SNP MP’s outside of Salmond who are quickly going to become hate figures from the right wing press and the Tories) at every single opportunity. The one thing 56 SNP MP’s guarantee is that they’ll have a voice (and as the third largest party they get the right to be third in every single Prime Minister’s Questions) and it is going to be heard and it will change the UK as right now the Tories have no mandate to govern in Scotland, a point barely being mentioned right now because the implications of that are enormous.

But there is hope for the people of England and Wales. Plaid Cymru have seen their vote share rise, and local English parties like Yorkshire First have made their first baby steps at introducing a English regional form of the SNP’s social democracy and civic nationalism to counteract UKIP’s far right racism and the Tory/Labour Unionism. Leftish voters voting UKIP may be doing so because for all of UKIP’s obvious bigotry they provide an anti establishment voice, something Labour don’t do and don’t understand that a number of people have had their fill of the British establishment.

Labour can shed their skin too thanks to the electorate getting rid of some major figures. They can think about doing something new, not just aping Tory or UKIP ideas and that will mean a lot of pain but frankly even had Labour been put into power today, they’d still have to adapt but this gives them the jolt they needed because frankly, this is probably their worst defeat in a UK election in my lifetime. Perhaps if they’d supported electoral reform during the 13 years they had in government things could be different, but every single mistake Labour has made over the last 30 years has come back to punish them today. So those that still believe in the Labour idea need to stop throwing around blame, dry their eyes and sort it out because the people of England need them to.

See, five more years of the Tories mean lives being ruined and destroyed. It means the end of the welfare state. It means something terrible but it’s not all lost, but take today to drown your sorrows and start tomorrow to fight against the Tories and unite behind the progressive parties because right now they’re all we’ve got to fight the Tories on their own ground of Westminster.

Whatever you do today just vote!

Today is election day in the UK general election after what seems like a campaign that has went on for decades. There’s a brutal choice in front of people: do they vote for one of the Tory parties (Conservative, UKIP, Lib Dems) or do they vote Labour, or for one of the more progressive anti-austerity parties (SNP, Plaid Cymru, Greens) that will support a minority Labour government to hopefully pull them from their current centre right pro-austerity position.

It’s a choice you have to make but what ever you decide just vote. Polling Places are open so go do the one thing the establishment is terrified (and David Cameron is clearly scared of the possible result) of which is the people using their democratic right. Even if you stand there in the polling booth and spoil your paper, just use your right that people fought so hard for.

Especially this year. There’s a real potential for change be you left or right so there’s hours left to vote. Don’t put it off and hopefully we get the right result in the morning…

One last word to the people of England from a Scot wanting a SNP sweep in the election…

It’s nearly the day of the general election and so much hinges on getting the Tories out as they with their Lib Dem or UKIP enablers will destroy lives over the next five years if they manage to form another government. In fact leaked coalition documents revealed in the Guardian today show that people, especially young people, the sick, the disabled and unemployed, are going to be hurt badly if Cameron gets back in. This isn’t to say I’ve had a Damascan conversion to Labour, I’ve not as a majority Labour government could be as terrible but in different ways as the Labour Party of today needs to be tempered hence my wish for the SNP (and their allies the Greens and Plaid Cymru) to get as many MP’s as possible.

I’ve had Labour supporters tell me ‘but you really want a Labour government so just vote Labour’, but as said, I don’t want a Labour government and I’ve outlined before why I’ll never vote Labour again a few months back. Ultimately because of the system we have either the Tories or Labour are going to form the main core of the government, and seeing as I think the Tories are scum. it makes sense to offer support to Labour in the hope that they listen, and possibly make things better for the UK.

Yet there’s been reluctance from many Labour supporters to even consider SNP support and rumours still persist that some close to Milliband would prefer to let the Tories back in than be put into government by the SNP. I’ve had friends on social media and in the real world voice their concern about the SNP, and yes, the word ‘nationalist’ is used purely as a pejorative with no understanding of Scotland’s old tradition of civic nationalism and how vastly different it is to cultural nationalism, which is what British Unionists pretend to be, but the problem is there is no shared British culture or identity. I can go from my home here in Bristol to Cardiff and experience a vastly different culture, heritage and idea of ‘Britishness’ there and the truth is that a form of conservative nationalism has been spawned that sadly the Labour Party buy right into as much as the right wing parties do.

Now there may be a confusion here as some readers will think there’s only one type of nationalism and that’s that nasty UKIP/BNP type, but here’s the thing: there isn’t and unless one believes in a One World government there will always be borders, and if there’s borders then one defines themselves in the nationalism they wrap around themselves. So you can be inclusive and welcome anyone to your country and they are effectively Scottish, or you can demonise immigrants/asylum seekers and Other them as the Tories, UKIP and Labour have over the last 15 years.

Then there’s the socialist argument that Scotland should still vote Labour in solidarity with their comrades in England, but that is easily shot down as Scotland has voted dutifully for Labour for generations. They acted according to old British Labour and socialist principles and barely got support from many on the left south of the border.  When Scotland made it clear they were rejecting Labour in massive numbers many on the left didn’t, and don’t bother to understand the changes in the political landscape or the fact that people may have socialist principles or ideas, but things have developed, and anyhow, a country like Scotland is never going to effect serious change waiting for the disparate left in England to pull the finger out of their collective arses to enact serious change. I’ve said before that many are locked into a binary battle to the death with the Tories that they miss the potential path Scotland offers.

England can find and develop its own socially democratic inclusive path just as Wales is starting too and they’ll find their closest allies in that will be the people of Scotland as although I feel the Union is dead, that doesn’t mean the three largest parts (I’m not even going to suggest a solution to the problems of Northern Ireland as that’s beyond my feeble mind) of the Union cannot form common bonds and create something new, positive and wonderful from the bloody mess of the Union. A close relationship of equals rather than an unequal partnership where England dominates due to it’s massive size in comparison to the other countries is more civilised, more befitting 21st century societies than one constantly looking to the past dreaming Imperial dreams of Great Wars that were never great, or continuing a bloodline that sees one family stand over the people unelected and unaccountable. The Union is a comfort blanket and it’s flag is a bloody shroud and for good reason the Union Flag is called the ‘Butcher’s Apron’.

Now for many people I’ve just written some pretty extreme things, and I imagine even Labour supporters may bristle at what they’ve read, but when you see Ed Milliband rebrand Labour as ‘One Nation Labour’ I only see Labour express their own nationalism and it’s that of everything that’s bad about the Union. This isn’t to say I’ve always felt like this. I’ve not, but on Sunday I was in London for a comic mart and while cutting through Victoria Station the Union Flag was hanging everywhere.

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I felt revulsion not because of the flag itself but of what it represents. It represents a nation that’d rather cling onto ‘heritage’ than feed it’s people. That would rather it celebrate the deaths of millions of young men in pointless wars than house people, including the young returning from today’s pointless wars. A nation that has the disabled demonised and spat on in the street. A nation that is not colourblind but sees people that look nothing like them as a threat. A nation clinging onto the very idea of itself and that puts a small elite at the top of the pile and keeps them there.

Then yesterday I saw this picture over at Wings Over Scotland.

waitingfornicola

This was taken as people waited for the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Greenock yesterday. You’ve got the Rangers supporting Unionists (one of which allegedly has some serious form) representing the past both supporting a dead club and a dying concept and a wee girl holding a saltire proudly aloft representing the future. She probably gets it, so I ask my friends and those that don’t know me to get it too.

The SNP are not perfect, but they’re a tool to allow a large part of Scotland to effect change. Yes of course they’ll act for Scotland but because of the Westminster system their actions will aid the poorest,the weakest, the less able in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If they vote down tuition fees, help repeal the bedroom tax and force Labour not to just drop austerity, but roll back Cameron’s cuts then imagine a better country?

There is nothing to fear from civic nationalists like the SNP. There is nothing to fear about questioning the entire purpose and history of the Union. There should only be good people uniting to rid the UK of the Tories and making a progressive alliance of parties (the SDLP will also support Labour) representing all four countries in the UK work. This isn’t to say that Scottish independence isn’t going to happen as I think it will and within my lifetime, but for now there’s a chance for genuine reform and change but I implore people to drop their old preconceptions, open their minds and think. There might never be another chance like this in my lifetime so lets work together but in new ways to improve things once and for all.

So don’t vote Tory. Don’t vote UKIP. Don’t vote Lib Dem as they’re now Tories in all but name. Do vote SNP. Do vote Plaid Cymru. Vote Green in areas where they stand a bloody good chance. Vote Labour through gritted teeth if need be and hope they stay true even to the basic changes they’ve pledged themselves to. Hope Ed Milliband is smart enough to realise Nicola Sturgeon’s offer of a progressive alliance and if he is, then on Friday it could be a bright spring day for all of us, not just the few.

What I thought of The Leaders Debate

Last night was the first seven leader election debate last night and all sides are claiming their own victories. Truth is that depending upon your own political bias whomever you liked was always going to win but there’s some remarkable results in all the polls, forums, Tweets, and all and sundry after last night’s debate.

The first is that just the sight of three female party leaders, one of which is First Minister of Scotland, shook things up right away.As has been pointed out, Cameron, Clegg and Farage are all privately educated, and Cameron, Clegg and Milliband are spawned from elite universities. Sure Sturgeon went to Glasgow University but she’s from modest upper working class root, and Wood is from a similar background in Wales though Bennett has a different background but one removed from the London based political classes.All three women looked, sounded and acted differently to Cameron, Clegg and Milliband’s tired old techniques, and as for Farage, well Sturgeon and Wood did the most effective evisceration of him I’ve seen from a politician.

And Farage’s reply is to make a face. Here’s UKIP and Farage in it’s full anti-intellectual glory.

But all the leaders consolidated their core support, even Clegg as he flushed the last liberal bone in his body down the bog as he exposed himself as Cameron’s little lapdog. The interesting thing though are those people who’s eyes have been opened that the narrative of neoliberalism, austerity and constant blame of the sick, unemployed, immigrants, and all those that are the weakest in society is in fact, a false one. Sturgeon, Wood and Bennett showed that there’s another narrative, not an especially old or radical one but simply about accepting decent British values of equality, decency and fairness. It’s a debate that’s been lost since Blair dragged Labour lurching to the right creating a vacuum that’s enabled the likes of UKIP to slime its  way in and gain ground, but UKIP and Farage can be taken on headfirst as shown last night.

Also what was clear is how little, if at all, Cameron, Milliband and Clegg knew about Scottish or Welsh politics so were unable to speak about anything but the established London media/political bubble rhetoric about ‘long term economic plans’ rather than facts and details. They failed to paint a positive vision, as Sturgeon, Wood and Bennett did talk the UK’s parts up, as well as make it clear that most people aren’t bigoted little creatures like Farage.

It also brings England partly up to speed with a debate that’s seriously advanced in Scotland, and getting off the ground in Wales. Just from my English friend’s social media feeds it’s clear many were impressed with Sturgeon and would vote for her party if they could, so it’s broken the spell that the SNP are scary nationalists once and for all. It’s made Labour’s job in Scotland amazingly tough, and it’s oddly, probably helped Labour in England as the SNP have made it clear they’ll only support Labour, so people may well vote Labour in England hoping for the SNP’s support. That of course is going to hurt the Greens but I still feel they’ll add to their existing MP.

As for Cameron and Clegg, it really wasn’t a great night. Cameron spluttered and barely deviated from the script so he looked wooden and aloof, while Clegg is just a big liberal arsehole with his ‘good immigration and bad immigration’ line that made everyone instantly think of this.

Last night isn’t going to decide the result once and for all as there’s still weeks to go but is has changed things on the political landscape. Women are now seen as leaders of not only their parties, but countries. They didn’t use the same tired techniques. They engaged people on equal terms. That alone is magnificent for an English media struggling still to come to terms with the ramifications of the Scottish independence referendum.

I still think Scotland will be independent in my lifetime, but oddly enough the only result in the election that could save the Union in the next five years is a Labour/SNP government. A Tory/Lib Dem/UKIP one sees the UK die by 2020 but after seeing all the UK (bar the disgraceful lack of NI party leaders) in it’s political glory debate it’s over for the old Unionist idea that England=UK. The Union as we know it is done, it’s just the people of England don’t realise it yet, but Scotland does. After last night there’s a wee glimmer of hope that people now realise across these islands that the old order of tired middle aged men in suits arguing about the same straplines is dead, long live the future where all of us are treated the same and all of us can have the same chances.

Do you know who you’ll vote for in May?

This week on my Facebook I asked a series of questions in regards what people intend to vote for (assuming they vote at all) in the forthcoming general election. I asked about UKIP and got no reply yet I know one or two are thinking of voting for them. I asked about Tory and got no positive reply yet I know there’s several Conservative voters on my Facebook.

I expected nothing from these questions. One of the things I was trying to do is not only do a little experiment into confirmation bias when it comes to friends (in both the real and virtual worlds) as after all, someone like myself that’s very firmly of the left isn’t going to gather friendships with Conservatives naturally but I have done over the years. I’m certainly not too keen on Kippers as UKIP are of the far right so really wasn’t expecting anything positive from that but it’s the next questions that started getting responses. I asked if anyone was going to vote Lib Dem. Nobody said yes. They’ve hurt too many people and frankly pissed in their chips and the sheer sense of complete desperation from Lib Dems can be displayed by in this fumbling pathetic performance from dead man walking Danny Alexander in last week’s Question Time.

People that had previously voted Lib Dem were rightfully disgusted by them. A feeling I share for my local MP hence  my campaigning for the Greens over the next couple of months, and this brings me to the meat and gravy of the questioning as I asked who would vote Green/SNP/Plaid in May?

The answers were interesting. People in England would like to vote Green but think they’re not going to get rid of Cameron, yet there’s no real enthusiasm for what Labour stand for now. When asked who’s going to vote Labour people didn’t speak of the present but of the Labour Party of Hardie, Bevin and Benn rather than the party of Milliband, Balls and Murphy. There’s a longing of the past and that perhaps Labour might, this time, come good yet this myth is truly busted in Scotland where Labour are dying because the people of Scotland have discovered that the Wizard of Oz isn’t some great person looking out for us all, but a bunch of grubby career politicians spouting soundbites desperately clinging onto power.

This isn’t to say the SNP aren’t flawed. They are, but those on the left in England have to get up to speed with the debate in Scotland because as I said in the days after the referendum last September there’s many on the left in England being left behind by events in Scotland. Yet the Greens aren’t the answer for people on the left or centre in too many cases as yet again they’re waiting for Labour to come good (after 40 years does anyone seriously believe this?) or for a ‘true’ party of the left to come forth but the people of Scotland didn’t. They jumped on the SNP and it’s morphed from a party of the centre to one of the centre left, though under Sturgeon it’s looking to diversify even further to the left.

One of the other things I was trying to do is get people to challenge their opinions so that they don’t just blindly tick for Labour/Tory/SNP/etc because it’s what they always did, or that it’s to keep the Tories out.  People want genuine change but there’s still a reluctance for people to admit it’s not going to come from propping up the system which has caused people to become confused, and in some cases angry enough to vote for the far right UKIP.

Now the purpose of all this is to help me when I go door knocking for the Greens, or engage in debate for this party, and yet I’m not daft enough to use the line ”vote Green and you’re backing the SNP’ as people still cling onto the belief the Union is protecting and helping us when in fact it hasn’t for a long, long time, assuming it ever did at all. For change to happen the Union in it’s current form needs to die so that might mean Scottish independence, or a Labour Party dragged to the left by the SNP abolishing the Lords as they’ve promised for so long now, or something on the horizon that nobody has seen coming like the referendum was last year.

Once the Union dies then we can rebuild. Challenge your opinions on your belief in the system and think what it does to ensure the protection of the status quo so the needs of the few override the needs of the many when what’s needed is that all of us have the same chances and nobody is left behind. So come May there’s a chance, albeit slight, that a massive change is coming to the UK of a scale that is going to change the country forever. This won’t be a Russel Brand revolution, or Nigel Farage’s staid brown fascism but coming from the people of Scotland and seeping down to the rest of the country.

All I’m asking is to consider your vote in May and think of not just ‘getting rid of the Tories’ but using your vote in a constructive way that doesn’t sell your principles short, and to consider that the country you live in has to die for it to have a chance again. Look at this election as part of a movement that started with the referendum two and a half years ago and could end up with one of  the establishment parties relying upon the SNP. That a few years ago would have got you laughed at, but now is shaping up to be a reality and this could be the step the UK needs.

You need however to make your own minds up. Engage people, talk to them, even if they intend voting for the far right UKIP. Speak to others and get their views but always remember there’s a chance the establishment line could be dust in just a few weeks so challenge opinion. We might never get a better chance.

The last Saturday before Scottish Independence becomes reality?

I’m typing this in a pub in Cardiff. A mate is watching Cardiff City playing Norwich City on the pub’s TV on a dodgy feed and it looks to be a cracking game. Cardiff itself is as always, beautiful and horrendous but that’s the joy of the place. As for the people, they’re on the whole, fantastic people.

I am not here over the bridge from Bristol to drink beer, chat with mates, drink beer, watch football on illegal TV feeds, and drink beer, but I was here for the rally organised by a Welsh pro-Scottish independence group, Go For It Scotland, in support of the Yes campaign in Scotland. The BBC have reported only 400 people in attendance. That is frankly bollocks and a quick skim of pictures on Twitter suggest the real attendance of around a thousand people or so.

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It’s inspiring to see so many people in Cardiff join in unity with the people of Scotland. There weren’t just Welsh nationalists from Plaid Cymru but there were Scots, English and a variety of people supporting Scottish self determination. Of course it’s nowhere near as impressive as the rally in Glasgow this afternoon where Yes supporters have taken over Buchanan Street.

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I don’t see or hear of massive grass roots rallies for the No campaign. I don’t hear people enthuse about how the No campaign has energised people or how it’s revealed Labour to be as complicit as the Tories in failing Scotland, as well as the people of Britain. I don’t see the discussion of the future from Better Together, but instead I hear people talking about ‘solutions’, and endlessly talking about how one day, if the right government was voted in by the right people, then something might get better for someone.

Nah, that shite is over as far as the people in the pictures above are concerned. They see the possibilities of the future and although here in Wales and the South West, there’s nothing like the explosion which is happening in Scotland, there is today on a sunny day in Cardiff tiny shoots of something possibly happening because to refer back to that BBC link, there’s this comment from former Wales Office minister Jon Owen Jones.

Mr Jones told BBC Wales: “I think the vote will go against [independence].

“I’m sure that we’ll have problems in Wales, whatever happens.

“Personally, I believe the problems will be worse if Scotland decides to leave.

 

So there’s a wee threat, which is entirely expected from the likes of failed Labour politicians like him as there’s been a load of failed Labour, Tory and Lib Dem politicians desperately trying to spin fear and threats to people but a lot of people don’t believe them and after they’ve done their own research they realise they can take power back from those who have clung onto it for decades. There’s finally something to look forward to, but it’s not over yet. The people of Scotland need to make their decision on Thursday and if it’s Yes then they’ll need to make their decision work and I know they will, but they’ll need help and support. Today in a Cardiff where their football team are playing at home, the sun is out, hen do’s are shrieking, shoppers are buying things in the perennial sales there’s a wee bit of the city supporting Scotland and wishing of better things for not only the Scots, but all the people of these islands.

As I get my train back to Bristol for a quiet night with Doctor Who and a curry I only hope people look at what’s happening and realise something huge could happen this week. If that huge thing does happen I hope people act on it, but Scotland, please vote Yes to kick it all off.